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Colonel who led dinosaur-puppet oath demoted, forced to retire

The Tennessee Air National Guard posted a re-enlistment video that featured a dinosaur puppet. (Facebook)

A Tennessee Air National Guard colonel has been demoted and forced to retire for leading a re-enlistment ceremony during which a senior noncommissioned officer recited her oath using a dinosaur hand puppet.

Maj. Gen. Terry Haston, the Tennessee Air Guard’s adjutant general, announced the demotion on Facebook Wednesday in the wake of an online firestorm sparked by a video of the ceremony.

Haston said the NCO — who took the oath Friday while the head of a Tyrannosaurus rex on her right hand mouthed her words — has been removed from her full-time position with the Tennessee Joint Public Affairs Office and that other administrative actions were being taken.

Haston did not identify either Guardsman, but in the video the master sergeant taking the oath identifies herself as Robin Brown.

“I am absolutely embarrassed that a senior officer and a senior NCO took such liberties with a time-honored military tradition,” Haston wrote. “The Tennessee National Guard holds the Oath of Enlistment in the highest esteem because that oath signifies every service member’s commitment to defend our state, nation and the freedoms we all enjoy.”

Haston said another senior NCO who shot the video was removed from his position as a unit first sergeant and received an official reprimand “but will be retained in the Tennessee Air National Guard.”

Randy Harris, director of joint public affairs for the Tennessee Military Department, was unavailable to answer queries from Stars and Stripes.

Lt. Gen. L. Scott Rice, director of the Air National Guard, said on Facebook Monday that he understood the “outrage and frustration” of online commenters about the video.

“Let me say, I’m equally shocked and dismayed by this event that mocks such a cherished and honorable occasion,” he wrote. “The oath of office or enlistment not only signifies our commitment to our nation, but pays respect to our fellow service members and to those who came before us.”

Chief Master Sgt. Ronald Anderson, command chief master sergeant of the Air National Guard, said on Facebook Tuesday that he had been inundated by messages of outrage over the puppet video.

“This singular act does not define us, the Tennessee Air National Guard nor the Air National Guard,” he wrote. “I have full trust that this incident is being addressed by leadership within the Tennessee Air National Guard.”

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© 2018 the Stars and Stripes

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